Sunday, July 17, 2011

Jerusalem Forest fire: Yad VaShem, Har Nof synagogue evacuated

Last update: 19:26 Israel time

A major fire broke out Sunday in Ya'ar Yerushalayim, the Jerusalem Forest, near Mount Herzl. As of 7:15 p.m. Israel time, firefighters have achieved partial control over the fire in the area of the Pi Glilot fuel depot, and are continuing efforts to extinguish flames in surrounding areas. Police have instructed residents of Har Nof and nearby neighborhoods to remain indoors until further notice.

According to National Fire Chief Shachar Ayalon, the Jerusalem forest fire broke out in four different places, indicating arson.

Around 4:30 p.m., visitors and workers were evacuated from the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, adjacent to the forest. According to the director-General of Yad Vashem, the fire reached 40 meters of the museum and maintenance teams managed to stop the flames from consuming the site's most precious treasures at the very last minute.

Around 6 p.m. an emergency medical worker told Walla! News that the street he is on in Har Nof has been evacuated, including the synagogue, its Torah scrolls and nearby schools. Just before 6 p.m. Knesset Member Reuven Rivlin and his wife were evacuated from their home in Yefe Nof, due the presence of reserves of flammable materials in the neighborhood's vicinity.

IDF chief Ganz ordered the Israeli Air Force to join efforts to extinguish the fire. Around 6 p.m. 22 firetrucks and six firefighting planes were being used to extinguish the fire between Har Herzl and Motza. An official told Channel 2 News that Israel has experienced greater fires in the past months, but the location of the fire--near a fuel depot, Yad VaShem, and residential neighborhoods--made this fire highly problematic.

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Israel's last major fire occurred on the eve of Chanukah 5771. This Tuesday is the 17th of Tammuz, the day on which the walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Romans, which marked the beginning of a period of three weeks of calamities culminating in the destruction of the Temple by fire on Tisha b'Av. 

On 16 Tammuz, the Golden Calf emerged from the fire into which the gold of the people was thrown. On 15 Tammuz (today), Chur, the son of Miriam was killed in an attempt to dissuade the people from constructing the golden calf. 

Check back for updates. Please pray for Yerushalayim.

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